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accompanied by a sagacious smile, of her coming here at all is a mystery. which, translated into words, I be- She was found weeping by the side of lieve meant-Oh! but I know bet a brook, looking very afflicted, and, at ter."
other times, she startles the passing “ Besides," resumed the old goat- stranger with her sad groans and herd, “ how can she be thought a cries. Poor thing! she is certainly wicked, unearthly thing, being, as she suffering great agony. When we first is, so young and handsome ?"
perceived her, we attempted to apI considered this argument none of proach her; but she fled precipitately the worst; and I certainly admired from us with signs of terror, and the ingenious method which the old never since has she permitted any one man had of guiding his judgment in to come near her.” matters of witchcraft and diabolical in “ How does she contrive to proterposition. I moreover concluded cure a subsistence in her wandering that the tia majura, the cripple tailor, life ? These places seem not much and the hunchback, were indebted for adapted to the maintenance of rational their supposed magical powers to beings." their extreme ugliness and superfluity “ Alack ! Senor, she feeds of back. Ugliness and shrewdness acorns, like a wild boar; she eats are, indeed, regarded amongst ig- anything she can find ; and often, too, norant people as sure tokens of mis- when she approaches the hamlet, some chies; and the inference is not, per- of us take care to leave food in her haps, devoid of some shadow of rea- way, which she snatches up greedily, son. The devil is depicted, by some and then disappears." learned divines, as an extremely ugly “ And this is all you can tell me and remarkably clever personage ; and concerning the poor female ?" people naturally enough conclude that “ As I am a Christian, it is.” persons who possess those two quali Now the information I received, ties in an eminent degree, must of ne- instead of satisfying, naturally enough cessity have some connexion with the tended to heighten my desire of knowcommon enemy of mankind ;~a hint ing more of the story of the unfortuthis to every old, ugly woman, de- nate wanderer. Night had closed in formed wight, and sharp wit, speedily unusual darkness, and I became apto remove from scanty villages to prehensive I should not be able to large towns, where anything passes find my way back to the town. muster, and is not subject to special this dilemina, I requested the young observation.
goatherd to be my guide ; but the tiBut to return.--The old goatherd, morous bumpkin would as soon have well satisfied with the approving looks condescended to conduct me into a which I bestowed upon his reasoning, lion's den. He exhibited a most vavery contentedly continued
cant and prodigious dismay at the “ No, no; there is nothing to indi- bare proposal ; and even the persuacate supernatural practices in that sive eloquence of a purse shown to young woman. I think I ought to him was entirely thrown away upon know something of these matters, his unenlightened mind. for I am an old man; and, besides, Keep your money, Senor," he our curate agrees with me in opinion; replied peevishly, “ and do not come and sure enough the holy man is the to tempt poor honest folks with it. I most proper person to consult con want none of your gold, if I am to cerning these sort of affairs.”
procure it at the peril of my life, and, “ How long has she been a wander- what is worse, by endangering my er about these places ?” I then in- salvation. A goodly company are we quired.
likely to find in these places at night “ It is about a week since we saw and a night like this withal !” her for the first time; but the motive The old man seemed more accom
modating; he did not, indeed, offer brilliant hopes, which were unhappily himself as a guide, but frankly invited rendered abortive. This was a new me to pass the night in his hut. In inducement to make me prefer the my situation, I thought the most pru- solitude and obscurity of my paternal dent course to pursue was to accept home to the glittering scene of the his hospitality, which I accordingly court of Madrid. On the day after did, and, dismounting, went to inspect my arrival at Oviedo, I was awakened what accommodation I was to hope early in the morning by a visit from for. A very frugal supper served as Don Lorenzo Navas, my intimate a prologue to a bed, composed of a friend.
friend. After the first greetings, I in. mattress of dry straw, and tattered quired of him the cause of a confused rags for a coverlid. I slept, however, rumor that I had heard in the street. very soundly, and, strange to say, I
“ What!” said Don Lorenzo, “ you was not visited by any dreams of the don't know anything then of the strange female maniac. But, if absent in my event which is about to take place ?" sleep, she was the first subject to Not I, indeed ; how, in the name occupy my imagination when I awoke. of fortune, should I, arriving but yes
I left the hut early in the morning, terday, after an absence of ten years ? and pursued my journey to — But what is this strange event ?” where I arrived full of the adventure “ They are going to hang a poor which had marked my visit to the fa- helpless female.” mous vale and chapel of Covadonga. “ And that you call a strange event! I was here, however, equally unable Upon my word, your affairs at Ovieto gather any satisfactory account do must go on upon a very monotoconcerning the mysterious female who nous, uninteresting footing, since a had so strangely crossed my path. public execution is calculated to proTime, that general destroyer of every- duce such an effect.” thing human, gradually obliterated “ It is not, my good friend, the exefrom my mind the recollection of my cution in itself that occasions this unadventure; and in less than a month usual excitement in the public inind, I had scarcely a thought to bestow on but the strange circumstances conan incident which had absorbed all the nected with the unfortunate culprit.” powers of my imagination but a short “Well, well, let me hear her story." time before.
“ It is, in sooth, a mournful one.
The wretched being, who is to Ten years had now elapsed—ten be the heroine of the tragedy of this years full of variety of incident and day, - was once well known to me, peril. I had left my native city, as one of the most beautiful and Oviedo, with the intention of seeing innocent lasses of a neighboring vilthe world ; I witnessed the stirring lage. Maria Sanchez was, indeed, a scenes rehearsed in France during the most amiable creature, until she fell despotic period of Napoleon's gigantic into the power of the ruffian who power; and I had taken arms in de- wrought her ruin. Maria was the fence of my country, when that mighty daughter of a reduced farmer, a tenant conqueror ventured upon his, impru- of the Bishop of
The nedent invasion. After the downfal of phew of this prelate found means to that great man-for great I must call insinuate himself into the heart of him, although my hated enemy-at the unsuspecting girl. His servent the ever-memorable field of Water- protestations were listened to—his reloo, I returned to Oviedo to enjoy a iterated promises of marriage believed. life of tranquillity, after the many In the seclusion of her retired life, it disasters, troubles, and perplexities, could not be expected that Maria which had until now distinguished it. should in any way have become aware
The restoration of Ferdinand to of the plot and artifices of an experithe throne of Spain gave birth to many enced seducer. She confided impli
citly in the honor of her adınirer, and dered for some time in unfrequented in an evil hour she fell. Too late she solitude ; but suspicion had already deplored her error; the assiduities of been awakened by her strange conher lover became less frequent; his duct, and she did not long elude the caresses no longer continued avenging and awful pursuit of justice, with the warmth of a fervent heart. which tracked her with slow but sure He grew cold_indifferent ; and she steps. She was at length taken, and could only weep over the change. conducted to the jail of this city,
“ She was alarmed, but could not where she was tried, convicted of inas yet surmise the whole extent of fanticide, and condemned to death. the dreadful fate that awaited her. At this awful moment, it seems that She became a mother; and this cir- a pang of remorse visited the heart of cumstance, which she considered the merciless seducer. He could not, would endear her to her neglectful without shuddering, contemplate the lover, seemed only to estrange his af- misery of which he was the sole aufections more and more. His indif- thor. He passionately appealed to ference soon grew into disgust; he bis uncle, the bishop, whose influence saw but seldom the unfortunate girl; at court was immense. His applicaand her tears and agony growing daily tion did not prove fruitless. The more irksome, he ultimately abandon- prelate was himself eager to prevent ed her to her wretched lot. The heavy the fulfilment of the sentence, and weight of her misfortunes and her obtained a royal decree to have the shame now glaringly flashed upon the cause investigated by the Council of aching sight of poor Maria. She fled Castile. The French invasion sucfrom the village, where she had been ceeded, and, in the confusion of those the idol of all around her; she was times, the sentence was suspended, now become a by-word of contumely and Maria lingered in prison. After man object of pity or abhorrence; a lapse of ten years, new judges have she soon grew frantic with her sor- ordered the award of justice to be rows, and, for some time continued a carried into execution;" houseless wanderer. Once more she “ Can this be possible ? Is such chanced to meet with her heartless an instance of barbarity offered by a seducer; but her agonising expostula- civilized nation ? Methinks the ten tions and scalding tears were poured years' confinement is ample punishin vain. He was grown callous even ment for the unfortunate girl.” to the voice of pity; and some new “ Well, but they say that strict amour in which he was now engaged justice requires her life.” completely alienated from his mind “ Then strict justice ought to have even the memory of the affection required that life ten years ago. But which he had once professed for the I don't see how we can reconcile this unfortunate Maria. This last proof double punishment with ideas of jusof unkindness drove the wretched vic- tice.” tim to the verge of insanity. In a fit A sullen murmur interrupted our of despair she committed a dreadful, conversation, and the bell tolled soan unnatural crime, which rendered lemnly—the moment for the execution doubly horrible her already too mise was arrived. An instinctive impulse rable fate. She deprived of life the hurried me to the place; an immense wretched offspring of her guilty affec- crowd surrounded the scaffold. tion. From that fatal moment, the Presently the wretched victim appangs of her remorse and woe were peared, supported by two friars ; she augmented. The common instinct of seemed ready to drop into the earth. personal safety made her at first soli- I shuddered at the sight of the poor citous to conceal the perpetration of maniac prisoner; but my astonishthe fearful act, and to avoid observa- ment, my horror increased, when I tion. In a distracted state, she wan, recognised, in the unfortunate culprit,
the strange female—the mysterious not by age : her withered limbs, once being, who had ten years before sur- symmetry itself, were almost paraprised me so much in the Vale of Co- lyzed, and wholly unable to support vadonga.! Time and suffering had their burden. But still there were wofully altered her form and features. sufficient traces yet remaining to conHer once full, dark eye had sunk into vince me of the justice of my opinion. its yielding socket; her cheeks, once The fatal noose was already round round and blooming, time and despair the neck of poor Maria. I could not had frightfully disfigured ; her rich, support the horrid scene; and, with luxuriant tresses, once of raven-black- feelings of mingled pity, disgust, and ness, were now white as snow through indignation, I turned my eyes away, extreme' grief and terror-evidently and rushed from the revolting scene.
OLD HANNAH; OR, THE CHARM.
BY SUSANNA STRICKLAND.
In sooth my tale is built on simple facts,
Poor old Hannah ! I see her now “ heaven save the mark !”—had died before me,her short stout figure, for love. Even at that tender age, framed as it was for labor-her round this last piece of legendary informared face, which long exposure to the tion seemed an inscrutable mystery. weather had so befreckled and betan- But Hannah, for a while, satisfied my ned, that not one tint of her original doubts, by telling me that “I was complexion was left-her small, deep- young at present; before I died I seated, merry grey eyes, and the little should know all about it.” From turned-up, impertinent-looking nose, Hannah I learned that gipsies could that gave, by its singular elevation, actually tell fortunes—that Fridays such a grotesque and humorous ex were unlucky days to travel on--and pression to her countenance. Often that charms were infallible. have I stolen out into the fields to I verily believe that the old woman listen to her odd tales, a pastime had tried every species of this kind of which I infinitely preferred to the necromancy, from the age of fifteen to detested task of conning my lessons. fifty, without obtaining, through the I can see her now before me, as she potent influence of magic, the desired sat crouched on her three-legged stool, effect-a husband! Hannah was a milking her favorite red cow, Straw- spinster–or, as the country people berry, beneath the shade of the noble denominate a single woman, who has old ash in the meadow. They were to support a family—a grace widow. happy days when I paused delighted Charms were, with this antiquated by the side of the little white gate, graceless damsel, a cure for every leading into the garden, to catch the complaint that afflicts humanity. For snatches of her old songs—to shudder the cramp, she wore the cramp-bone at the treachery of False Anachin, of a sheep, so placed as to touch the and to enter, heart and soul, into the part affected; for headach, a parcel tragedy of Lord Thomas and fair El- of mustard seed, sewed up in a small len.
flannel bag, and fixed under her cap Hannah first initiated me in ghostly on the crown of her head; and, if her lore. From her I learned that village- teeth pained her, she forthwith promaids had sweethearts, and that men ceeded to the orchard, and culled from
60 ATHENEUM, vol. I, 3d series.
the oldest codling-tree a small wither- penknife by cutting fern roots aslants ed apple, which she deposited by and paring apples, to try for the inimoonlight on the gate-post of a dis- tials of the favored swain by waring tant field, whither she expected chance the parings nine times over my head, would never direct her steps again. and casting them, with a sudden jerk, But for the ague, that terror of the over my left shoulder. And then, poor, a host of magical remedies were the pips ! When seated round a resorted to, with pretty equal success. cheerful fire, at the present social The unerring cure, however, for this season of the year, how often has that cruel disorder, shocked my organ of potent spell passed from girl to girl, benevolence, with its selfishness, even as bright eyes and rosy cheeks bent when I was a child; but Hannah, though anxiously over the roaring blaze, exvery charitable, felt no such scruples. pecting, with ill-concealed impatience, Here it is :-“ Any person afflicted the result of their invocation ! with the ague, and wishing a fair rid “ If he loves me, crack and fly! dance of this evil disorder, must, when
If he hates me, lie and die." the shaking fit is on, go down into a
And I, with whom laughter was almarsh, or low meadow, through which most a disease, have often, out of flows a running stream that has a bravado, reversed the charm, yet lisplank over it for the benefit of foot tened, with a beating heart, to the passengers. The person, male or fe- snap that annihilated my hopes. male, must cross the bridge without
Cbarms of deeper importance no looking behind, and, standing on the persuasions from Hannah could ever bank, with face to the sun and back induce me to try. All her rhetoric, to the rivulet, suddenly throw the enforced with the true Suffolk whine, plank to the opposite shore, chaunting and a long pause between every letthese lines :
ter, could never prevail on me to eat Ague! Ague ! Ague ! seize, I pray,
the apple before the looking-glass at The first living thing that comes this way,
midnight to behold my sweetheart And throws the plank across the river, peeping over my left shoulder. The But cease to plague me now forever. Take them, and shake them-torment them very idea of the thing rendered me
nervous, I considered it a crime litBut, Ague, return to me no more.'
tle short of mother Eve's eating the “ The amicted person is then to forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden, return home, carefully avoiding the and had I seen any reflection in the road by which he came; and the first glass, I should have devoutly taken man, woman, or child, who is so un- the apparition for no less a personage fortunate as to pass that way, and than the prince of darkness. Howethrow the plank over the stream, re ver, one new year's eve, a clergymnan ceives the evil spirit, which, like the (an old bachelor to boot) presented hobgoblins of yore, has not the power me with a piece of bridecake, which to cross a running brook.”
had been drawn nine times through At Hannah's instigation, as I ad- the wedding-ring by the bride; provanced towards womanhood, I have posing, on the whim of the moment, placed my shoes, “ going and coming,” that we should both try the efficacy when resting in a strange bed, in the of the charm by dreaming upon it that vain hope of beholding in my sleep very night. I eagerly entered upon my future spouse. For the same the visionary speculation, and dreamed wise purpose, I have picked up a Queen Mab herself must have inwhite stone, when passing over ground spired the dream—that I was married I had never before trodden, and, on to the King! The donor of the cake my return home, deposited the prize was less ambitious, and less fortunate. under my pillow, as a mystic treasure He imagined that a swarm of wasps that could reveal to me the secrets of maliciously invaded his bed, and defuturity. I have blunted many a good voured the cake from beneath his pil